“Our team worked really hard and we had great coaching. We got lucky a couple times, but that’s baseball. We won the games we had to, never gave up and kept fighting,” Bailey said.
Yes, Bailey’s numbers dropped off from his freshman season to his sophomore campaign, but a .471 average with 35 runs scored, 10 doubles, three home runs with 23 RBI and 23 stolen bases is nothing to scoff at for the 2012 Times-Georgian All-Area Player of the Year.
Bailey just went out there everyday and did what he could do to help his team win the ball game.
“It feels like all my hard work’s paying off. It’s just going to help me out in the long run. The harder I work the farther I’ll go, that’s how I think about it,” Bailey said.
His coach knew that once pitching staffs found out what Bailey could do at the plate, he wasn’t getting much to hit.
“He managed to have a great year being pitched around. He’s got such a great approach at the plate and he understands the game so well that he’s not selfish. He’ll take that walk when he needs to. He’s not going to try to do more than he’s capable of doing. He understands the game of baseball, and that says a lot,” VR coach Jay Sneddon said.
The adjustments Bailey made were another result of the hard work put in by the sophomore.
“I knew a lot of teams were going to try and throw me off-speed and a lot of pitches away and just adjusted to it and worked on it in practice. Just to put the bat on the ball and make good things happen,” Bailey said.
What the numbers don’t show is the quality defense Bailey played at the shortstop position, his leadership as only a sophomore and how he worked pitchers from the leadoff position. The ability the sophomore has shown in just two seasons leaves his coach somewhat speechless.
“I’m not sure words can accurately describe the impact that Wade Bailey’s had on our program. He came in from Day 1 and busted his tail — every practice, every game — every thing we do, he goes full tilt. He’s a perfect example of a kid that just works his tail off to be where he’s at,” Sneddon said.
While the individual honors have come for Bailey both at Villa Rica and playing for the East Cobb Astros, the goal remains a team goal. Making it to the playoffs for the first time in 11 seasons just added to the desire to get back, and to win.
“It was great making it to the playoffs, but once we got there and Marist beat us in the first round it just makes you want to win the state championship that much more. Get the ring, not only for me, but for my teammates and the city of Villa Rica. It would be awesome,” Bailey said.
The memory of playing in the playoffs on the road against the two-time defending state champions is hard to top as a highlight from the season.
“Just the first game of the playoffs when we beat Marist in nine innings. We just came out and beat them. We lost the next two, but it showed that even though we were the fourth seed playing the state champs from last year we weren’t scared and we were going to play our ball,” Bailey said.
The young Wildcat also brings the ability to make the players around him better.
“When he steps on that field, everyone just turns up the intensity one more notch. With him being in the position that he’s in, he’s going to get a lot of looks to our program, which is going to open the door for a lot of other people in our program,” Sneddon said.
Bailey will have a chance to continue playing at the next level where Sneddon believes the best is still yet to come.
“He’s still on the upside. And that’s crazy. He’s already done so many things as a freshman and sophomore and already set so many Villa Rica records, and to think that I’ve got him for two more years and this program’s going to have him for two more years, I’m anxious myself to see what he’s going to bring to the table,” Sneddon said. “Yeah, his junior year is going to be big. They’re going to start knocking on the door and I think he’s going to have his choice. He’s got a lot of opportunities already and I think the numbers are just going to keep growing ... I think he’s D-I right off the bat. I really think there’s nowhere else to go but D-I unless it’s draft day — honestly.”